Evonne Goolagong Cawley

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Excerpts from Evonne!: On the Move by Evonne Goolagong with Bud Collins, 1975, Dutton, NY
Out of print, but still readily obtainable used from Amazon.com via the link above.

    Evonne Goolagong, now Evonne Cawley, was born on July 31, 1951 and grew up (from age 3) in Barellan, Narrandera Shire, New South Wales, Australia, about 400 miles southwest of Sydney, as the 3rd of 8 children in the only aborigine family in a town of about 900 population. Her home had formerly housed the defunct town newspaper; her family had no telephone, no refrigerator until after she won Wimbledon and bought her "Mum" one, and "Mum" did her laundry by boiling it in a kettle over a fire.

    When Evonne was a year old, she found some old tennis balls in a used Chevy her father, a sheep-shearer, had bought. Evonne took to carrying a tennis ball around with her most of the time, and it was a very familiar object to her by the time the War Memorial Tennis Club was built in Barellan when she was about 4. When she was 9, she got her first real tennis training from traveling instructors of the Victor A. Edwards Tennis School, and when she was 10, Vic Edwards himself travelled to Barellan to see her play.

    Evonne!: On the Move is generally well written. However, the way the book is organized, interspersing flashbacks with a narrative of Evonne's 1971 Wimbledon Final victory over her idol Margaret Smith Court, can be a bit confusing at times. The problem is that the flashback sequences are not sequentially arranged, but hop to and fro. The latter part of the book, once past the 1971 Wimbledon victory, tells of later events including Evonne's victories over Chris Evert in the 1972 Wimbledon semifinals and in the Final of the 1974 Australian Open (Evonne would later also defeat Chrissie in the 1980 Wimbledon Final).

    Apart from the slightly confusing organization, the book is refreshing and interesting, particularly enjoyable due to Evonne's delightful sense of humor.

Evonne while defeating Margaret Smith Court in the final at Wimbledon on July 2, 1971. Photo from Sporting-Heroes.net
 
click to see larger

    At age 13 Evonne moved to the Edwards' house in Sydney, and Vic Edwards became Evonne's coach, manager, and "Dad No. 2", while Evonne went on to win 7 Grand Slam tourney singles titles in her career (4 Australian, 1 French & 2 Wimbledon titles). Evonne married Roger Cawley on June 19, 1975; they have 2 children. Evonne retired in 1983. In 2004 she was named Captain (coach) of Australia's Fed Cup team.

Growing up in Barellan (pages 35-41)

    Our old house is still there on Bendee Street, an abandoned tin shack with scruffy, ink-blotched linoleum floors. Faded lettering over the front door identifies the structure as the office of the Barellan Leader, a newspaper that has gone the way of too many newspapers--down the drain...
    The Barellan Leader had folded before we got there in 1953, but they left the printing press behind. Some kids have jungle gyms, but we had a newspaper press to climb on and lead slugs to play with, the slabs of type (with the printing on backwards) that make up a newspaper column...
    There was plenty for me to do in Barellan, in the days before I'd ever seen an airplane. It was a crowded metropolis of 900 people in those days. but today Barellan is disappearing. The biggest market has closed, along with several other businesses. Sadly, the most romantic name in Barellan commerce--the Vienna Café--has shut down, and nothing lies behind its colorful cutglass nameplate and clouded windows. As you walk down Yapunyah Street, the principal boulevard of Barellan (and just about the only one that's paved), you can't miss the Vienna Café. Unless you're a fast walker, in which case you might niss the town altogether.
    As long as the surrounding wheat and sheep properties continue to thrive, however, something will remain of Barellan. Trains go through twice a week to pick up wheat from the silos and the storehouse called the Bulkhead. Two buildings are sure to last: the Commercial Hotel and the War Memorial Club, where the beer flows to irrigate the men who look after the soil and livestock. If the crops and animals go dry, that is a natural calamity accepted by the cockies (the men who raise the wheat and sheep). But if they go dry, that is a tragedy no one accepts. Life without beer isn't worth living out there.
    It's treasonous, but I don't happen to like beer. The only other Australian I know who doesn't drink beer is a tennis player named Bob Hewitt. He lives in South Africa now, and I'm afraid to ask if he was deported.
    ...When I was eight or nine, I played rugby with the boys. I loved to run with the ball and tackle. I played cricket and soccer, too, all this before I became really immersed in tennis.
    And I ran. Speed has been a prime factor in my tennis, as is has been in Billie Jean's. With Margaret Court it's power and reach. Running makes me feel good and free, it's the best part of any sport...

    Some of my best friends are white.
    Without them there would have been no tennis, no tournaments, no discovering and refining this talent that I have for pursuing and pummeling a ball. It is not a talent that necessarily enriches mankind, but entertainment does have a value. It enhances life. Neither winning nor losing means as much to me as knowing the crowd has enjoyed my match. Some players feel that winning is everything and that losing is a disaster. Not me. I want the spectators to take home a good memory. If I had lost my 1972 Wimbledon semifinal to Chris Evert in three sets instead of winning in three, I would have been disappointed, but not displeased or angry. Because of the occasion, the tension, the fight we both displayed, and our shotmaking, it will rank as one of the memorable matches.

    There would have been no beginning if Bill Kurtzman hadn't taken a liking to me, and no career as such if Vic Edwards hadn't seen something in me that made a believer of him...
    Mr. Kurtzman had played tennis when he was younger, and he thought Barellan should have a club. There were a couple of courts in town, but nothing organized. Then Mr. Kurtzman began talking up interest and led a subscription drive. With those donations and the help of the local veteran's club, the Returned Servicemen's League, the tidy little tennis club was constructed. Four red loam courts with floodlights, well fenced, and adjoined by a small brick clubhouse. Wimbledon it is not--although the roses rival Wimbledon's--and yet I doubt that any community in the world of fewer than 1,000 people has a tennis club as nice.
    Every town and city in Australia has an RSL Club where food, drink, entertainment, and recreation are cheap. Anyone can join. They're supported mainly by the bars and slot machines, called poker machines. A place like Barellan revolves around the War Memorial Club, which subsidizes the lawn bowling and tennis clubs. Thus an annual tennis membership is a staggering four dollars.

Moving to Sydney at 13 (pages 45-55)

    In the course of a week about 4,000 pupils attend VAETS [the Victor A. Edwards Tennis School] taking group lessons at a wide variety of locations, including the home campus on Duntroon Road...
    It was Mr. Edwards reputation for group instruction that brought him into contact with Mr. Kurtzman. One of the features of VAETS is the country schools set up for one week in the rural areas of New South Wales. Every year during the August holidays, Mr. Edwards sends teams of coaches to operate teaching programs in eleven or twelve country centers, such as Gondegai, Young, and Cowra. This give kids from the bush an opportunity for first-rate instruction, a chance to learn a game that will be a social focal point for country families who drive miles to play at courts in small towns. Almost every town has a court or two...
    With Barellan's War Memorial Club built, Mr. Kurtzman contacted Mr. Edwards with the thought that my town would be a good place for a country school...
    Colin Swan and Faith Martin were assigned the Barellan School... in six days we got about the same amount of instruction the city kids got in a term of thirteen Saturdays...
    "The first thing we noticed was the way Evonne moved. She was a natural athlete," says Mrs. Martin...
    "The next year, though," Mrs. Martin says, "we really got carried away by Evonne. She was back in the school, and she'd improved so much. Col and I got so carried away that we phoned the boss, who was at another school about 700 miles away. Col told him 'Boss, you've got to see this little Aboriginal girl. She's the best prospect we've ever seen.'
    "I dont' think the Boss approved of phoning that distance to rave about a ten year old. He asked Col to talk to me and said, 'Are you sure? Are you both sure?'
    "'Quite sure.'
    "'All right, I'll fly up. It better be worth it.'
    "He did, and right away he agreed with us. But so what? What was to be done for or about an admittedly talented, but poor, very poor, kid in Barellan. An Aboriginal at that. There hadn't ever been any Aboriginals in tennis.
    "So she'd keep coming to our school every year, and Bill Kurtzman would continue taking her around to the small country tournaments--Cootamundra, Leeton, Yanco, Wagga Wagga, Tumut, West Wyalong. Nobody was ever going to become a champion out of that. The boss had to take her to Sydney. Somebody had to..."
    By this time it was also in Mr. Kurtzman's mind that I should have a chance to see what I could do in better competition... Mr. and Mrs. Edwards had taken in another country girl, Jan Lehane from Grenfell, to live with them during the 1950s...
    This gave Mr. Kurtzman an opening to ask Mr. Edwards if I couldn't do the same...
    ...it would have to be done in easy stages. He checked with Mrs. [Eva] Edwards, and they decided to invite me to Sydney for a three-week school holiday, to play the age-group tournaments always held in Sydney at that time. Then they could see how I'd get along with the girls at home [the Edwards had 3 daughters already old enough to have left the household, and 2 still at home], Patricia [Trisha], a year younger than me, and Jenifer, a year older, and how I'd stand being away from my own family.
    ...When I first went to live with the Edwardses, and they took me and Trisha around to kids tournaments, we frequently stayed at motels. That was our treat if we did well. We'd stay at somebody's home for the first couple days of a tournament, but if we played well, Mr. Edwards would splurge on a motel. Motel rooms in Australia are equipped with kettles, teabags, and instant coffee, and the first time we stayed in one Mrs. Edwards asked me to fix the tea.
    Some time went by and I hadn't appeared with the tea. "Evonne," Mrs Edwards called, "what's taking you so long?"
    "Well, gee," I answered, "I'm having a lot of trouble getting the tea out of these little bags."
    "What?"
    "Somebody put the tea in tiny bags, Mrs. Edwards. I don't know if I'm supposed to tear them or what..."
    Mrs. Edwards and Trisha began laughing so hard they were crying...

Walkabout (page 32)

    Even at nineteen I had a lot of mileage on me, miles and miles of prowling a rectangular world of 1,053 square feet--my half of a tennis court.
    My success seems to depend on the skill of my opponent, and I like it when she makes me run because that keeps my interest up. For me the most fun is catching up with and hitting a ball that looks impossible to reach. If there's not enough prodding from my opponent, if she's not challenging, the Goolagong fog descends and I vanish in a haze of inattention. The Goolagong form is still there, hacking away and losing points, but I'm on automatic pilot. My mind is off on an excursion somewhere, and I'm oblivious to the score. I'm going through the motions, but they aren't winning motions.
    When this happens, my opponent cheers up. She begins to win, and she learns that the best way to beat me is to play miserably and lose the first set, thereby destroying my concentration, and, presto, do a turnaround and win the next two before the fog lifts.
    When this happens, my fans groan, "not again"; my coach, Vic Edwards, tries to light two cigarettes at once; and most spectators nod knowingly, "Evonne's gone walkabout."
    By this time my walkabout, which is nothing more than a loss of concentration, has become a characteristic widely celebrated by sports journalists.

Endorsements, Agents, & Taxes (pages 153-155)

    I still wear [Teddy Tinling's] dresses in Britain, but I had quite a good contract with Ginori of New York to wear their Goolagong dresses elsewhere. They made them up special for me, but the same dresses went into the retail line. That's unusual, but I think it appeals to women to be able to buy a dress they've seen a top player wearing.
    Fame makes endorsements possible. This side of my business is handled principally by Bud Stanner and Jules Rosenthal, executives for International Management, Inc. [now International Management Group, IMG]. Mark McCormack launched IMI primarily to help Arnold Palmer capitalize on his appeal as a golfer and currently handles business affairs for about a hundred sportsmen and sportswomen. When Rod Laver sounded out McCormack about taking him on as a client in 1966, McCormack wasn't interested--not enough public interest in tennis. That changed sharply when open tennis arrived in 1968, and Rod was the first tennis player to sign with IMI. Since then John Newcombe, Roger Taylor, Bjorn Borg, Ion Tiriac, Mark Cox, Adriano Panatta, Kerry Melville, Betsy Nagelsen, Manolo Orantes, Laurie Fleming, and I have put our affairs in IMI's hands, along with others such as racing-car driver Jackie Stewart; golfers Gary Player, Tony Jacklin, and Arnold Palmer; basketball's John Havlicek; hockey's Stan Mikita; baseball's Brooks Robinson; skier Jean-Claude Killy; skater Janet Lynn; football's Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick; soccer's Pelé.
    Mr. Edwards watches over the endorsements closely so that I don't undertake too much...
    Besides Ginori, I have a worldwide racket contract with Dunlop, and shoe contracts with Dunlop (for wear in Australia and New Zealand) and Romika (for the rest of the world). Part of my off-court financial scheme--along with tennis camps and a position as touring pro for Hilton Head Island, South Carolina--includes endorsements in socks, soft drinks, and cosmetics. These extras amount to something over $250,000 a year. When I think that it's all based on playing a game I've loved since childhood, it's a bit staggering.
    I guess I'm well off, but I leave the figures to Mr. Edwards, IMI, and the accountants. The accountants have to wrestle with taxes for every country I play in. For example, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service takes 30 percent immediately from any prize money; France takes 15 percent; Japan 20 percent. It's different everywhere. For some countries, you file later. Australia takes into consideration the payments I make abroad... Mr. Edwards says I realize roughly one-third of what I gross, and that doesn't seem bad.

About Chris Evert, and their 1st match, the 1972 Wimbledon semifinal (pages 157-170)

    While I was winning Wimbledon, a little girl across the Atlantic named Christine Marie Evert was getting ready to tear up the U.S. Open at Forest Hills--almost. Billie Jean King stopped her in the semifinals...
    That's when I began paying attention to Chrissie, although I'd heard of her a year before when--at fifteen!--she beat Margaret Court at a small tournament in North Carolina...
    We met for the first time at the T-Bar-M Racquet Club [in Dallas, Texas for the Maureen Connolly Brinker International in March 1972] and you'd have thought it was a summit conference the way the reporters followed us around... We met socially and liked each other, but we did not meet on a tennis court...
    I don't know who made up the draw for that tournament, but it sure was crook, which is Australian for sick. Here were Goolagong, King, and Evert... all in the same half of the draw...

    I enjoy playing [Chris Evert] so much, I always know the score, which means I'm concentratiing, responding to her challenge. She has said of me, "I feel a good relationship with Evonne. I play hard as anything against Evonne, but I don't really enjoy beating her that much, and I don't mind losing to her. Not like I mind losing to Billie Jean or Margaret. I really savor victories over them. But with Evonne it's just comfortable. Oh, we try very hard to beat each other, but it doesn't carry over, somehow. It's a very nice rivalry."
    The Very Nice Rivalry began [at the 1972 Wimbledon] with Chrissie asking me about curtsying to the Royal Box. She was new to this. "Just sort of bend your knees and bob," I said [a few years later Tracy Austin would appreciate Chris Evert showing her how to curtsy at Wimbledon]. I never do the very formal curtsy I learned when I made my debut at that Sydney ball with Trisha. That's a bit much... We bobbed, and giggled, knowing how awkward and silly we appeared. Two fine athletes who looked about at coordinated as the Tin Man when his joints were rusty...
    We recovered control of our bodies quickly enough, and for ninety-five minutes we ran, stretched, lunged, and sprawled. We hammered, smashed, stroked, nursed, blasted, and blooped balls over the net, producing the kind of drawn-out spectacular points that make tennis excruciating for spectators...
    ...I found out how quickly tough she is from the baseline, on fast grass or slow clay. First point of the afternoon: I drove a backhand down the line and come in to volley. What volley? Her crosscourt forehand went past me so fast that I made a funny, unbelieving face.
    Even so, I broke her serve in the opening game...

    She was drilling the ball in a way I'd never seen before. Chrissie isn't stronger than Margaret Court, but she has a different game. She seems to think that she'll get a nosebleed if she comes to the net, so she hangs back there like a battleship shelling a port miles away. Boom, boom, boom . . . over and over again . . . harder and harder. I wondered where the power came from. Chrissie was slight and slim (although she's filled out since), but she had balance and timing, a tireless rhythm, and she could think. She was a metronome with a brain, changing speeds, catching me with a beautifully disguised drop shot. She would lure me up, then pass me. I tried to get her to come up, but she wanted no part of it. If she was out of position, she'd sky a good lob, buying time to regroup.
    It was marvelous stuff, and before I knew it she'd moved from 1-2 to 5-2. I was serving then and she got the first two points. But I made a couple of winning volleys, and on a run of eight points I'd held my serve and broken hers at love as she served for the set. Now I was 4-5 and feeling confident, with my backhand and swooping volleys functioning well. I was reacting to danger the way I so often do, and was ready to take over.
    Chrissie wasn't ready. She banged away at my backhand, and it went to pieces. Instead of tying it up, I lost serve and the first set, 6-4.

    I kept losing. A bit of a walkabout here? I don't know, but I was just about out of it at 3-0 for Chrissie. The crowd was as lethargic as I was. At 40-15, with me serving the fourth game of the set, Chrissie got a point on one of the rare bad bounces on that court. I grinned at the bad luck. That revived the audience. I revived too, and won six straight games for the set.
    It was obvious I couldn't beat her from the baseline. I couldn't outboom a battleship. I had to move her around, put her off balance, a little more on the defensive, so I could creep up and do some volleying. At 0-3 it was now . . . or forget it. I started to think about Mr. Edwards's advice. I never want to hear about strategy before a match. I simply play. But this time, because I was going against the unknown with Chris, I had asked him, "What should I do?"
    "You've got to take advantage of her double-handed backhand," he said. He'd coached Jan Lehand O'Neill, a fine Australian who uses both hands for her backhand, and he knew the weaknesses. "Slice your backhand short crosscourt to her backhand. She has to take extra steps to handle anything on the backhand, but if she has to go after a low, short ball, she'll work that much harder. She can't hit it as well on the run, and she doesn't bend too well. Pull her out of position that way."
    I thought about it, tried it, and it worked. It's not that easy to do. But when I could hit the low spinning ball I wanted crosscourt, with a good angle, it opened up the court for me. When she was hurried like that, she merely put the ball back over the net. She didn't drive it, and I was there to cut off her shot with a volley.

    We'd played almost an hour and were even at a set all. I was brimming with confidence, serving hard and well. I felt I knew how to beat her, but it was far from over. I won my serve, a seventh straight game, and the streak ended as she won hers...
    After that every game was hectic. Break points were everywhere, to be escaped and made. She broke me, and I broke back to 2-2. A mighty forehand return broke me once more, and Chrissie was ahead again at 3-2.
    I wouldn't let her hold serve, getting to 3-3 on a leaping forehand volley. My serve. I double faulted to break point, only to wipe it away with a serve that buzzed through her. It was 3-4, and I held a break point that vanished on the strength of one of those ripping double-handers. "Game to Miss Evert. Games are four all, final set," chanted the umpire.
    She was weakening, I thought, even though she held serve. She'd butchered a couple of vital overheads and was shaky if she had no alternative but try to volley, when I'd dragged her close to the net.
    O.K. Got to hold serve. I was pumping the first serve in and at 30-0 I decided to try a serve and volley. She'd passed me every other time, informing me that I'd have to work my way foreward, not come steaming in on the serve. This time it worked. Her return wasn't as sure or solid. I knocked it off with a volley and quickly had the game to 5-4.
    If she held, it might go on forever. All afternoon she'd been killing me with that cute, deceptive drop shot, halting a big swing abruptly to deliver a wristy flick. She tried it a last time. I had it picked and sprinted ahead as she caressed the ball. It was barely over the net, but I was there to transform it into an even meeker drop that lurched above the net and expired on her side. She nodded almost imperceptively. Nobody had treated her drop shot that way. Few had ever reached it.
    She served and we slapped the ball back and forth. It came to my forehand, and--I don't know why or how--I made up a shot. At least I'd never hit the shot before: a forehand crosscourt chop that sat down almost as soon as it touched the turf. She was waiting with her forehand, but the ball curled back away from her, bouncing only a few inches. Again she had no play: 0-30. I was playing out of my mind, and all the pressure was on her. I sliced again to her backhand, and she knocked it into the net.

    Match point. Lots of them.
    One more slice to the backhand. Not a very good one. She was there in time to blast a backhand crosscourt. I glided to my left and cut one last angle with a backhand volley. She didn't bother to go after it. Better than anyone she knew it was no use, but she kept coming for her closest look at the net. To shake hands.
    Not a great match technically, but everybody called it a sporting epic, and I'll accept that verdict. In winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, I'd come from a set down and 0-3 in the second--and from 2-3 after losing serve in the third. I was more than satisfied.
    It was, as I would realize later, something in the bank for the future. Chris beat me the next five times we played... we were even, 8-8, by the end of 1974.
    Chrissie cried a little in the changing room, but she didn't lose her sense of humor. When a reporter told her that I'd followed Mr. Edwards's game plan, she remarked, "Oh. Well, I made my own plan, and you see where that got me."

Evonne (Goolagong) Cawley page from the ITF Database, 273 wins, 69 losses (does not include all events; the WTA Tour lists Evonne's career singles record as 704-164)
Evonne Goolagong profile at WTATour.com
Evonne Goolagong page at the International Tennis Hall of Fame
Sporting-Heroes.net has 7 large photos of Evonne
Find more books about Evonne Goolagong Cawley at Amazon.com



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